Lessons on pornography: sex education in the digital world

The internet has transformed sex and relationships education. But how can teachers tackle pornography? Writing in the Guardian, author James Dawson shares his tips…

Knowledge is a weapon

It’s our responsibility to know what we’re dealing with, and by that I mean what young people have to contend with. Have you ever been on Chat Roulette? Do you know how Snapchat works? Are you familiar with Two Girls, One Cup? If we shy away from these things, however we feel about them personally, we’re doing the young people in our classes a disservice; we need to train ourselves to be part of the conversation.

Talk about pornography

Pornography needs to be tackled head on. SRE teachers develop an uncanny ability to sidestep embarrassment and this is no different. Plan a discussion about porn. There are two important elements that need addressing. The first is unreality. Most PSHE curriculums feature lessons on body image and photoshopping. Porn is no different; pupils should be able to identify where pornography is taking liberties with reality. Discuss body hair, cosmetic surgery, breast implants and penis size. You don’t have to show pornography to discuss it. I would recommend using FHM or Men’s Health Magazine to discuss body image and relate it back to internet porn.

As well as how pornography looks, attitude and consent must also be talked about. In some porn, consent is very much implied but not stated. Discuss how vital explicit consent is and conduct activities or debates around what constitutes consent so that both boys and girls know their legal stance. Furthermore, talk about how female porn actors often cater to men with little regard for their own pleasure and explore how this is misogynistic and imbalanced…

Don’t demonise pornography

Pornography is part of adult life. Recent findings suggest there were 300,000 attempts to access pornographic images from the Houses of Parliament alone. What works well is dividing the class into a prosecution and defence in a fake court case to ban porn from the internet – you’ll discover passionate arguments on both sides and it ticks plenty of English speaking and listening assessment boxes too…

James Dawson is a former SRE teacher and author of Being A Boy: The Hilarious Guide to Puberty, Sex and Relationships, which is out now.

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What do you think about James Dawson’s tips and what advice would you add for teaching sex education in schools? Please share in the comments or on twitter… 

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Comments

  1. LaCatholicState

    SchoolsImprove This is a job for parents…..not teachers. I dont want teachers views on porn….thanks anyhow! euw

  2. LaCatholicState

    SchoolsImprove Parents….tell your kids to flee from porn which is evil. Problem solved….no need for teachers talking porn. euw again

  3. LearnWLesley

    LaCatholicState SchoolsImprove teachers should never voice own opinions unless specifically asked. Present facts & facilitate debate

  4. LaCatholicState

    LearnWLesley SchoolsImprove not on porn you dont. this is not a topic for teacher debate! It is for parents only.

  5. LearnWLesley

    LaCatholicState SchoolsImprove should be part of PSHE alongside social media, texting& sex education.Pupils debate -Teachers facilitate.

  6. LaCatholicState

    LearnWLesley SchoolsImprove no it shouldnt! All these are the duties of parents. Stick to algebra….why dont you?!

  7. LearnWLesley

    LaCatholicState SchoolsImprove role of a teacher is far more than the subject they specialise. Parents should speak to children but 1/2

  8. LearnWLesley

    LaCatholicState SchoolsImprove it should be spoken about at sec school . Not all parents will speak to their kids. needs to b community

  9. LaCatholicState

    LearnWLesley SchoolsImprove It isnt. Many parents dont want you too. Its none of your business! Mind your own.

  10. LearnWLesley

    LaCatholicState SchoolsImprove there really is no need to be aggressive or rude. We are all entitled to our opinions .

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